Disgruntled Mother brings Class Action against Google after Child Drops $65 on Android In-App Purchases

March 11, 2014 - Written By Eric Abent

Love them or hate them, in-app purchases go hand in hand with mobile gaming these days. While some don’t interfere with gameplay much, it seems that many more are there as a way to bypass the long wait times that mobile games have become famous for. They aren’t just a headache for gamers, however, as they can cause real problems for parents whose children unknowingly rack up dozens or even hundreds of dollars worth of in-app purchases. A New York woman is angry after her five-year-old child reportedly managed to spend $65.95 on in-app purchases in the game “Marvel Run Jump Smash!” and she’s letting Google know through a new class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco at the end of last week, and takes issue with the fact that Google Play doesn’t always require users to enter their password before they make in-app purchases with real money. While the Google Play Store will require you to enter your password most of the time, it won’t ask for 30 minutes after the app is initially installed. This, obviously, can result in some financial woes for parents who aren’t aware of the 30 minute rule. Add to that the fact that some of these games are directly aimed at children, and it isn’t hard to understand why some parents are up in arms about these cases of oblivious spending.

If history is any indication, this class action lawsuit against Google might actually succeed. Apple found itself at the middle of a similar lawsuit not too long ago, and the iPhone maker ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in settlement money with parents and the FTC. Just like Google, Apple didn’t require users to enter their password before making purchases for 15 minutes after downloading an app, but the company unsurprisingly ended up closing that window.

While it’s tempting to argue that parents should be keeping a watchful eye on their children as they’re using these apps, it isn’t exactly absurd for these parents to expect there to be some kind of barrier in place when it comes to spending real money on “free” games. These aren’t necessarily isolated incidents either, as it usually isn’t long before you hear of yet another parent flabbergasted at the amount of money their child burned through on in-app purchases. It’ll likely be a fairly long wait before we get any kind of judgment (the plaintiff is requesting a jury trial), but in the meantime, head down to the comments section and let us know what you think of lawsuits like this.